Thanks to the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC's intuitive and enthralling editor, Portal 2 has a near-endless supply of new puzzles for players to enjoy. Since its release, over 200,000 new community made levels have been uploaded to the Steam Workshop, ready for a one-click download and integration into Cave Johnson's pan-dimensional scam. Whether you love lasers, revere repulsion gel or crave companion cubes (don't we all?) there's sure to be something out there.
Here's our pick of the best ten community-created puzzles available, and a further five fulsome campaigns. Obviously, with so many to choose from, some are bound to have fallen through the cracks. Be sure to share your favourites in the comments, and keep your eyes peeled for our top co-op maps in the very near future.
There's an island in the middle of the map's suspiciously brown water. On it, three buttons deactivate the emancipation grids to the three rooms off to the size. Simple enough - head to each room, collect its cube, and pop them on the switches. Except each solution requires elements from the others, leading to a puzzle that quickly has you running through what can be done where. Satisfyingly convoluted. Download Permutations here.
I'm a sucker for both gels and excursion funnels, so Goobound was already off to a promising start. It's a series of paint-based puzzles, that have you really thinking about the application of that blue bouncy goo. What really sells the map is the button-based end section, that has you figure out the sequence of ramps to raise in order to bounce yourself to the exit. Download Goobound here.
3. Four Block
Four Block is a great realisation of a segmented room theme. Unlike Permutations, here each challenge is linked only by the need to collect a cube to bring back to the small central room that acts as the main hub. It's a clever example of how to create a series of fun puzzles out of all of the game's many elements, and still have it gel together in a cohesive whole. Download Four Block here.
4. Collective Scrutiny
In Collective Scrutiny, mapper Edeslash creates a large, multi-roomed chamber, in which many of the puzzle elements are kept separate from their home by those portal and object destroying emancipation grids. Bypassing them involves directing lasers, rescuing spheres and liberal application of orange gel. It's not particularly difficult, but working through the various processes is a lot of fun. Download Collective Scrutiny here.
Mevious is probably the most prolific and well known of Portal 2 mappers, thanks in no small part to a Valve made collection of his work from the Testing Initiative's beta. His levels trend towards the compact but devious, a style exemplified in Gate. You're placed on the wrong end of an emancipation grid but, despite appearances, the solution is sheer elegance in its simplicity. Download Gate here.
Head to the next page for perplexing faith plate action and frenetic excursion funnel fun.
Magnetic presents a series of challenges that require you to transport a cube to a button on the other side of the room. Twist: those cubes are at the other side of a wire mesh, in self contained areas with no portalable surfaces, that are just close enough to be carried. The unusual set up of the puzzles led to a section that had me stumped for long minutes before I realised the solution was blindingly obvious. Download Magnetic here.
7. Path of the Cube
Something different to the usual puzzle set-up of having the Perpetual Testing stickman doing the level acrobatics. In Path of the Cube, you and your Companion Cube operate two buttons to guide a regular cube through a side-on maze full of moving platforms and excursion funnels. No portalling to be done here, but the inventiveness of the premise makes for a nice change. Download Path of the Cube here.
8. The Laser Cross
All great laser-based maps are about making your limited resources stretch further than should be possible. The Laser Cross is one of the best, forcing you to constantly revise your solution as you attempt to activate the various components of each room with just two refraction cubes. One simple mistake and you'll end up back at the start, refining what seemed like a sound plan. Just watch out for the bloody faith plate. Download The Laser Cross here.
9. Time Saving
Mapmaker Romb has a penchant for devising some of the trickiest puzzles to come out of the community. Time Saving isn't the most head-scratching of his creations, but unlike many of the others, it also doesn't rely on obfuscation or odd quirks of Portal 2's physics. Instead it's an enjoyable sequence of problems to overcome, with a timing element that's sure to please Portal 1 fanatics. Download Time Saving here.
10. Too Simple
A cube on the floor. A button connected to the exit beside it. Simple, right? Well, no, not quite. Too Simple has a devious little trick up its sleeve that blocks you from completing the obvious. Once it's revealed its gotcha, the rest of the level isn't that hard to work out, but it's a nice little timing challenge and a reminder that in Portal, nothing is quite what it seems. Download Too Simple here.
Head to the final page to see our top five Portal 2 custom campaigns.
While the in-game editor is a great tool for realising your puzzle idea, it doesn't have the flexibility create anything outside of the pristine walls of an Aperture testing chamber. For that you need Hammer, Valve's Source map editor.
It's a powerful tool, but also complicated and at times downright awkward. That hasn't stopped people from using it to create more in depth campaigns - collections of levels that contain custom visuals, stories, scripting and even special physics rules. Here's five that show off what a dedicated mapmaker can achieve.
1. 12 Angry Tests
12 Angry Tests is an exceptional seven part campaign that serves as a standalone GLaDOS-free story that mirrors the structure of Portal 2. you start out in an abandoned and worn-down Aperture, solving fiendish laser and refraction cube puzzles. From there you wind up in the depths of old Aperture, playing with gels and momentum, before the hard light/excursion funnel heavy final act, among rows of long abandoned test chambers.
It's full of clever flourishes, like one room late in the game that completely reconfigures itself just as you're about to solve it. There are plenty of twists from the plot, too. Like any good Portal 2 campaign, there's a surprising antagonist hindering your progress. In all, it's an hour or so of new content with pitch-perfect difficulty and a keen eye for what makes a great portal-based puzzle. Download 12 Angry Tests here.
Set after the events of Portal 2, Decay shows an Aperture that has been left to... well, you know. Run down test chambers aren't exactly a new idea for Hammer made maps - even Portal 2 itself is filled with them - but Decay really takes the dilapidation to extremes. Corridors are wonky, puzzles no longer align properly and absolutely everything is falling apart.
The puzzles included are some of the hardest on this list. The second of the three parts is particularly tricky, pulling every design trick to introduce new obstacles that disrupt previously sound plans. In the third part, elements of different test chambers overlap, causing plenty of misdirection. But the visual spectacle of the climactic climb through the rubble is a compelling reason to endure its red herrings. Download Decay here.
3. Designed for Danger
One of the early plans for Portal 2 saw Chell at the whims of a selection of personality cores, each with their array of test chambers. Designed for Danger gives you an idea of how this might have played out. You start in one of the main game's early test levels, but as you move to solve it, you're broken out by Rick, the adventure sphere. Apparently Nolan North doesn't make enough appearances in games, so we have to put him in mods now.
Rick has designed a bunch of deadly adventure chambers for you to solve. Well, sort of. Designed for Danger's theme is mostly sold through visual touches and between chamber sections. For the well designed puzzles, danger merely means "contains a lot of lasers." That is, until the final act, which sends you through the bowels of Aperture. Download Designed for Danger here.
4. Curious Chamber
Curious Chamber is a three part campaign that subverts gravitational direction to create a series of puzzles that are constantly surprising. To give the least spoilery example, the first chamber has an uncrossable gap, a white wall to fly out of, but nowhere to build up enough momentum to do so. Except, that when you investigate a small corridor with a target painted at the end wall, gravity flips 90 degrees and you're suddenly falling into it.
Throughout it shows off just what tricks are possible with Hammer. That reaches a whole new level in the last part, a series of chambers that are inventively presented to create a memorable, and funny, experience that becomes increasingly difficult over time. Download Curious Chamber here.
5. Moonbase Luna-C
A series of test chambers set on the moon! That means more than just seeing acres of greyish-brown rock outside of the windows, because these maps also make use of reduced gravity. It seems like such a small change - you can jump higher and for longer, but so what? Except the effect the change has on your ability to navigate levels is massive.
It's a case of relearning your limits and intuitively realising which leaps you can make. But the levels also feature liberal use of laser grids, both below and above you, to create challenges that would be impossible with our stupid, restrictive Earth gravity. Still, no matter where you are, the turrets remain happy to politely kill you. Download Moonbase Luna-C here.